By Olivia Yang

On May 3, the Legislative Yuan passed the third reading of the draft amendment of the Animal Protection Act. In the future, those who run pet animal facilities (including breeding, selling, and boarding) without permission from local government authorities can be fined NT$100,000 to NT$3 million (approximately US$3,100 to US$93,000).

In addition, since July 21, 2015, those who report related illegal business to authorities can receive a reward of up to 20% of the fine.

(update ends)

On April 20, nearly 30 Taiwanese animal protection groups gathered to push for an amendment to the domestic Animal Protection Act. If the legislature passes the amendment, animal cruelty offenders might face jail terms of more than a year.

The Association of Taiwan Tree-huggers, Tawian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Animal Protection Association of the Republic of China, along with other animal protection groups, have launched a petition for a revision of the current Animal Protection Act.

As of April 21, more than 50,000 people have signed the petition. The campaign organizers hope to garner 300,000 signatures to put the amendment proposal on the agenda of the legislature.

Pan Han-shen, director of Taiwan Tree-huggers, states that they will propose an amendment draft to Article 25 of the Animal Protection Act before the end of April. The amendment will divide offenders into three categories, including pet owners, non-pet owners and people who kill animals for commercial use or food.

Under the revised version of the law, non-pet owners who abuse animals to severe injuries or slay them may be subject to jail time ranging from one to two years with an additional fine of more than NT$ 200,000 (approximately US$6,185) and less than NT$ 2 million (approximately US$61,848).

Slaughtering or trading animals listed on the prohibited list for commercial use or food could also lead to a jail term ranging from a year to two years with an additional fine of more than NT$300,000 (approximately US$9,277) and less than NT$ 3 million (approximately US$92,771).

As only a jail time of less than six months can be converted into fine, the revision will not allow the imprisonment of animal cruelty offenders to be converted into fines.

The current law does not categorize offenders and no violation can lead to imprisonment for longer than one year.

Pan says that the Animal Protection Act was first introduced in 1998, and it was not until 2007 that the legislature passed the bills regulating the penalties for maliciously abusing and hurting animals.

Pan also says that since 2009, only a single offender has been put behind bars – that was due to unpaid fines after committing an animal abuse crime. In recent years, there have been more animal cruelty cases being reported by media. Pan and other group leaders suspect that this is the result of the lenient penalties of the present rules, which has prompted the call for an amendment.

Pan also mentions that under the current regulations, the harshest penalty for killing an animal is imprisonment of less than a year, which is preposterous considering even offenses of damaging and destruction of property can lead to imprisonment of two years.

Both Kuomintang (KMT) and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators have shown their support for amending the law.

Short film cautions migrant workers not to kill animals for food

In addition to pushing for stricter animal protection laws, several animal protection groups in Taiwan have also made efforts to improve migrant workers’ awareness of Taiwan’s animal-protection regulations.

On April 22, Taiwan Animal Equality Association (TAEA) released a short film reminding foreign workers from Southeast Asian countries that it is illegal to slaughter stray dogs and cats for food in Taiwan.

Lin Yi-shan, director of TAEA, says that some migrant workers are not informed of the animal protection laws in Taiwan and continue to kill dogs and cats for food, which is a common practice in their native countries.

Lin says to let foreign workers understand Taiwan’s animal protection regulations, TAEA has held several campaigns to promote the knowledge to the migrant worker community.

The organization has made posters and brochures, and also a short film under the auspices of Council of Agriculture to spread the word on the Internet and other media.

The video has been translated into four Southeast Asian languages, including Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai and Filipino.

Lu Yueh-hsiung, a Vietnamese chef who works in Taiwan, says that it is normal to eat dog meat in Vietnam. He says that migrant workers should not be the only target of the campaign and hopes that Korean materials could be added. Korea is another country that has the tradition of consuming dog meat.

Lu asks the Taiwanese public to be patient and tolerant towards cultural differences regarding animal protection between Taiwanese and Southeast Asians.

He says when the Taiwanese first arrived in the US and brought the habit of eating animals organs and century eggs there. It took Americans a lot of time to adjust to the cultural difference and accept the custom.

A representative from a migrant worker agency says that the agency informs the workers before they depart their native countries what kinds of animals they are not allowed to eat in Taiwan. The agency will ask employers to put up posters in factories and constantly remind workers of the regulations in the future.

Edited by Olivia Yang

Liberty Times
China Times
“Activists unveil bill to increase punishments for animal abuse” (China Post)
“New film warns foreign workers against killing dogs, cats” (Focus Taiwan)